Reports have emerged suggesting that certain European steelmakers are considering idle periods for their blast furnaces due to a combination of lackluster demand and declining prices. Sources indicated to S&P Platts that Slovak steelmaker US Steel Kosice is contemplating idling its blast furnace number three. The company's press spokesperson declined to address the speculation.US Steel Kosice currently operates three blast furnaces with a combined capacity of 3.5 million metric tons per year. Previously, in response to weak demand and soaring energy costs, the mill had temporarily taken blast furnaces two and one offline during the second half of last year. However, both were restarted in January amid a rise in coil prices.Meanwhile, Liberty Galati in Romania has recently taken its sole blast furnace offline for technical maintenance. The unit is expected to resume operations within the next couple of days.Despite efforts by European mills to sustain prices amidst sluggish demand and competitive import offers, their resolve appears to be faltering. Larger buyers in southern Europe have reported offers as low as €700 per metric ton delivered or ex-works. Although prices from north European mills remain slightly higher, above €750 per metric ton for now, there is limited interest at these levels.